“Lord, it’s a mess. You can’t possibly want it.”
I am standing in a crowded auditorium. A prevailing churches conference. A room full of ministry leaders. Movers and shakers for the kingdom.
Do you ever just feel like you don’t quite belong?
Chris Tomlin is leading worship. I mean, how cool is that?
The last two days, we have been poured into by names like Bill Hybels and David Ortberg. I’m singing and connecting with God in an experience that is a bit out of my ordinary world. I am compelled to lift my hands in worship. And then, it happens.
I can feel the tangible touch of God on my hands. He is silently telling me, “Return to me.”
You see, God knows that my outsides look pretty good, but my insides are another story all together. I haven’t let him in yet. I have been volunteering in kids ministry and learning things about his word that I have never heard while washing down tables and leading kids to their assigned classrooms. But I haven’t let his word resonate yet. I know he means it for them. I just can’t believe it for me.
I want kingdom opportunities and when I see another succeeding, I don’t see that they are succeeding for God. I just see that they are farther ahead in the race and I am bitten by a little green bug of jealousy. I long to be the center of attention. There is an emptiness inside of me that demands it. I just want my chance to prove that I, too, am worthwhile.
But in this moment, God is not asking me to prove anything.
He is just asking me to return to him.
So I did.
In those following weeks, I recommitted my life to God. In my mind, I had always been a believer. I was baptized as a baby. I knew he was there. But, I made the choice to be water baptized as an adult, not because I believe it will take me into the gates of heaven, but instead, to show outwardly what was happening to me inwardly. God was washing away the old and ugly to reveal something new & beautiful.
I immersed myself in his word daily.
I learned to pray in alignment with God’s will. Not about my wish and want list, but about his purpose and balance for who he created me to be.
I connected to others through small group bible study.
One day, I was sitting in church observing a woman I greatly admired. Her ministry was in the spotlight. A strange, unfamiliar feeling came over me. It was joy! I was genuinely happy for the success she was bringing to the kingdom as a result of her work and effort.
I’ll admit that I was surprised by this new emotion.
I basked in it for a moment. It was like trying on a pair of jeans that fit just right. No way I was leaving it behind. This is what a clean heart feels like.
To be totally honest with you, I’m still under construction. This transformation of my heart will never be perfect this side of heaven. I will always need to be wary of traps like comparison and inadequacy. But now I know how to fight back. I know how to keep my feet from slipping into bondage and brokenness.
Immerse myself, daily, in God’s word.
Stay connected to other believers for encouragement and motivation.
Do the work he has given me. Own my share of the kingdom plan.
Through it all, lean into him and trust that he is hard at work in my heart and my life.
Know that each day is filled with new mercy. I am, after all, human.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.”